100M SHOPPING CENTRE REFUSED PLANNING
Local officials say they are ‘disgusted’ by the decision by An Bord Pleanala to deny planning permission for a €100 million retail development on the site of the old Cork Mart in Fermoy.
Last September Fermoy Town Council planning officials denied the Shipton Group, the developers of the centre, planning permission on the €22.5million site, with the group hopeful that An Bord Pleanala would overturn the decision.
A spokesman for the Shipton Group told The Avondhu that the developers are ‘very disappointed’ with the news but had yet to review details on why the decision was made, and as such would not comment further on the matter.
In its ruling, An Bord Pleanala gave four reasons for refusing the development. It claimed that the retail centre would be contrary to the planning and development of the town centre, challenge the vitality and viability of the existing businesses in the centre of Fermoy, negatively impact on the image and view of the area and would provide a flooding risk to the location.
Sinn Fein town councillor, Seamus Coleman said it was terrible news for Fermoy.
“The windfall of the rate base and commercial activity from the Shipton development would have greatly benefited Fermoy,” Cllr Coleman said, “It is the final nail in the coffin of the five years of that town council. To be fair, most councillors were in favour of the development but planning authorities obviously rejected it.”
Local Labour TD Sean Sherlock was also critical of the decision. “This is extremely disappointing news for Fermoy. Not only would this development have attracted more people to the town but it would have created vital jobs. This is a crazy decision at a time when we need investment and development in smaller towns throughout the country.
“There has to be an immediate return to the drawing board on these plans which must be facilitated in one way or another. Fermoy cannot afford to lose out on this opportunity and I know the people of Fermoy will agree,” Deputy Sherlock said.
Mayor of Fermoy Tadhg O’Donovan, who collected over three thousand signatures from the public in support of the development, said he was ‘gutted’ by the decision and said that a special meeting of Fermoy Town Council would be called to discuss An Bord Pleanala’s ruling.
“My immediate thoughts are with the hundreds of people unemployed in this town at the moment, and with the hundreds of shoppers forced to commute to retail centres outside the town week in week out. My thoughts are also with the Shipton Group who were willing to invest €100million in our town. This decision sends out the worst possible image for our town, as one with siege mentality that doesn’t want any worthwhile investment in our town,” he said.
“Having secured three thousand signatures in support of this through petition and conscious that at least six of the nine town councillors supported the application, this latest move highlights the significant deficit between democracy and planning process,” Mayor O’Donovan concluded. Fianna Fail councillor, Frank O’Flynn expressed his deep disappointment with the An Bord Pleanala decision.
“This is extremely disappointing and another major blow to Fermoy. Considering the jobs at stake during construction and when up and running.
“I would appeal to the Shipton Group to sit down with the planners with a view to reaching common ground on the project. It is too important in the heart of Fermoy and especially with the amount of jobs depending on it at this present time”.
Thursday 23rd April 7:28pm